5 things to know about renewables today

According to a new report, renewable energy is growing more quickly than ever before.

5 important things to know about renewables today

  • According to a new report, renewable energy is growing more quickly than ever before.
  • Governments need to show more ambition in order to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • We need to start working on this now so that by 2026 we have a good chance of succeeding.

The world is building renewable energy capacity quickly, but we need to do more to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. The International Energy Agency says in a progress report that if we want to stay on target, then global renewable energy capacity needs to be 80% higher than it is now by 2026. That means solar and wind capacity need to double in the next five years.

The IEA says that in order to get renewables to net zero by 2050, governments need to do more than address current policy and implementation challenges. Governments also need to increase ambition for all renewable energy uses.

However, the IEA says it is still important to focus on cutting emissions elsewhere.

This is according to the 2021 edition of the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index, which tracks the world’s progress towards clean energy. The study found that while 92 of the 115 nations studied had improved their score over the past 10 years, only around 10% had made consistent progress.

The report said the findings showed "the need for renewed focus and resilience to meet the climate goals of the next decade", and called for "coordinated, multi-stakeholder action to achieve an effective energy system evolution".

Here are five things the IEA report tells us about renewables today.

#1. Renewable electricity will grow more with better policies and COP26 goals

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that a record amount of new renewable energy capacity will be added in 2021. Growth in renewable energy generating capacity will accelerate over the next five years, accounting for almost 95% of the total increase in global power capacity between now and 2026.

By 2026, renewable-electricity output will grow by 60% to more than 4,800 Gigawatts. This is the same as the combined capacity of fossil fuels and nuclear. China is expected to account for 43% of the growth, followed by Europe, the US and India. These four countries are expected to account for 80% of renewable capacity expansion worldwide.

#2. Solar energy and wind power are becoming more popular and will continue to grow in the future

The IEA predicts that solar energy will grow by 17% this year. Solar energy will make up 60% of new capacity by 2021. This is due to an increase in the price of commodities. Even though utility scale solar is still cheapest, the IEA predicts that commercial and domestic solar projects will grow due to initiatives in China, the EU, and India.

India is forecast to grow its renewable power capacity faster than any other nation in the decade ahead, primarily because of ambitious targets and the availability of tax credits as well as the low cost of wind and solar. The US is expected to see a 65% increase in growth of renewable capacity, largely due to federal tax credits and the decreasing cost of renewable energy sources.

#3. Biofuels are becoming more popular in Asia than in Europe

The IEA (International Energy Agency) expects the demand for biofuels to be more than 2019 levels by the end of this year and double by 2026. Although the US is likely to lead this surge, much of the growth there will be due to the rebound from the collapse in demand caused by COVID-19 in 2020, it says.

Asian nations are expected to account for 30% of the global growth in production by 2026. This is thanks to strong encouragement for the use of biofuels. India will become the world’s third-biggest market for bioethanol by 2026 and biodiesel targets set by Indonesia and Malaysia are expected to drive growth in Asia.

#4. Renewables offer a great future in hard-to-decarbonize sectors

The number of new hydrogen and biojet fuel projects has increased recently because of policies that encourage their development. If all of the announced projects come to fruition, the wind and solar industries will need to grow by a third.

Biojet technology is ready for takeoff, but there is a lack of policies to create demand for the technology. If countries can agree on certain measures, then biofuel demand could reach 6 billion liters by 2026.

#5. With the right policies, renewables could boost the global recovery

According to the IEA, only 11% of global governments' economic recovery budgets are devoted to renewables. This is not enough to achieve net zero. However, with the right policies and incentives in place, public spending could mobilize more than $400 billion of private investment in renewable energy projects. This would not only bolster the global economic recovery but also lead to a new wave of renewable-power projects equivalent to the entire capacity of the Middle East by 2026.

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